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Dry Face Skin Treatment

Get details on cleansing and moisturizing dry skin.

Treating dry skin includes washing the face regularly. [©Shutterstock 2010]
©Shutterstock 2010
Treating dry skin includes washing the face regularly.

A dry face can feel tight and itchy, not to mention create an aged appearance. This article provides information on dry skin treatments, from how to properly clean and moisturize the skin to lifestyle changes that can help prevent dry facial skin.

Cleansing Dry Skin

Washing the face regularly helps to eliminate dirt, oil, makeup, perspiration and bacteria from the skin. But the way you wash your face may be drying your skin. Gentle cleansing is key to rehydrating dry skin. To start, try washing your face just once a day instead of twice. When cleansing the face, the water's temperature should be lukewarm, never hot. Hot water can strip the skin's natural oils. Next, use a mild facial soap that contains oils or moisturizers but doesn't have irritating perfumes or dyes. If you're not sure which facial soap is right for you, check with your doctor or dermatologist.

Again, it's important to be gentle. Wash your face with your hands instead of scrubbing with a washcloth. Exfoliating is not recommended for dry skin. After washing, gently pat - don't rub - the face dry with a soft towel.

Moisturizing Dry Skin

The right moisturizing product can help add moisture to the face and seal in the skin's natural oils. Pick a lotion that is formulated specially for the face. Often, the product label will reveal whether the lotion is for dry, normal or oily skin. For moderately dry skin, try a lighter moisturizing lotion. If your skin is severely dry, a heavier cream, especially a night cream, may be better.

If you're confused about which moisturizer to choose, see a dermatologist. He or she can examine your skin and recommend the right treatment for you. Products that contain lactic acid, for example, are frequently prescribed to alleviate dry skin.

Preventing Dry Skin

One way to prevent dry skin is to protect the skin from the sun. The sun's rays can dry skin and cause skin cancer. Wearing sunscreen and protective clothing like a hat or visor, and avoiding the midday sun can prevent dry skin and premature signs of aging.

Smoking can also exacerbate dry skin by depleting vital nutrients. Over time, smoking can make the skin weaker and less elastic. Smoking also has been linked to the formation of wrinkles around the eyes and mouth.

If you live in an arid climate, the dry air can deplete your skin of moisture. Try using a humidifier to add moisture to the air in your home.

Men who have dry skin should be careful when shaving. To avoid shaving the same areas over and over, apply a warm, wet washcloth to the face to soften the hair. Then lubricate the skin by applying shaving cream (or lotion or gel). Make sure the razor is clean and sharp, and always shave in the direction of hair growth. After shaving, use warm, not hot, water to rinse the face.

For more information on causes and treatment options, visit the dry skin section of the Mayo Clinic's  Web site. If these methods don't relieve your dry skin, see your doctor or dermatologist for advice.

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